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A NSW first in helping the vulnerable

NSLHD has become the first in the state to offer sedated COVID-19 vaccinations for adults with disabilities.

The clinic has been in high demand since it started last month with each week’s sessions booked out with people aged from 16 and above. An anaesthetist is present during the 40 minute session and assists the patient, who receives a mild sedation, while they receive their vaccination. 

The need for such a vaccination clinic was realised during the peak of the vaccination campaign this year, when many carers and group home operators were seeking alternatives to the mass vaccination hubs for people with a physical or intellectual disability.

NSLHD Virtual Hospital Medical Co-director Dr Paul Collett said many of the patients who experienced a physical or intellectual disability had a fear of needles, or became agitated and were unable to be vaccinated in a regular GP setting.

“The feedback from families, doctors and the home operators has been really positive,” he said.

“Some of these patients have never been vaccinated before.

It is really important that these patients are vaccinated [against COVID-19] because they are more vulnerable as some have difficulty mask wearing, they live in group homes so are mixing with people and can’t always remain COVID-safe.
NSLHD Virtual Hospital Medical Co-director Dr Paul Collett

For many of the patients, their disabilities have prevented them from being able to receive childhood and flu vaccinations, but the Virtual Hospital is hoping to change that. 

Early discussions are in place in the district to see how the model of care could be expanded to provide immunisations to vulnerable patients.

Medical Co-director Dr Elizabeth Swinburn said there had been some good come out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is one of the good things to come out of the pandemic is the way we have looked at models of care and how we are providing services has benefit to our patients,” Dr Swinburn said.

Patients wishing to use the service need to be referred from a GP or specialist. 

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